Friday, December 12, 2014


Phase Change Storage with the Cryo-Compression Gas Turbine

  Since the 1970’s researchers have participated in a global effort to find sustainable energy sources for uses in electric power generation and transportation. This has led to an increased need for clean and reliable energy storage devices, which can store the power generated from clean energy sources, and make it readily available when needed in a wide range of applications. The field of energy storage devices has in general been dominated by chemical and electro-chemical solutions such as batteries and super-capacitors, which are resource-intensive to manufacture and have limited number of charge cycles. As an alternative, phase change of liquefied gases is considered to be a promising medium for clean energy storage.  
   Liquid air is selected over liquid nitrogen as compression coolant in the Cryo-GT for safety reasons. Problems associated with leakage of oxygen enriched air due to liquefaction are more manageable than potential asphyxiation in the event of liquid nitrogen leakage [1]. While liquid air can present a fire hazard as oxygen enrichment develops due to lower liquid nitrogen boiling point, there are mitigating factors. These include dilution of liquefied air by mixing with atmospheric intake air in smaller low pressure Cryo-GT's, declining fuel and lithium battery use during evolution to a full liquid air economy, ability to replace boil-off and world wide distribution precludes transportation hazards. In addition, comparison of fire hazard with other energy storage systems, namely gasoline, diesel and kerosene (fire class B) and lithium-ion batteries (fire class D) needs to be addressed. The latter is particularly hazardous; igniting at only 167 F and capable of igniting metals while reacting to split water. One metal, aluminum, is critical to both transporting and end use of these batteries.
    Phase change storage  is gaining acceptance as indicated by an operating 300 kW pilot plant and a grant for a liquid air vehicle engine in the UK [1]. This technology has also been licensed to General Electric Oil and Gas for use with GE peaking turbines. A “liquid nitrogen economy” was proposed in 1974 [2]  and some high pressure engines with cryogenic compression were built and tested, including a fired turbine [3] and two fuel-less reciprocating engines [4, 5].
   Thermodynamic cycle efficiency of an expansion engine is a function of the temperature difference between source and sink relative to the temperature of either. Heat sink energy is stored in a cryogenic phase change medium, just as heat source energy is stored in fuel, a phase change medium or the surrounding environment, The Cryo-GT described here operates with “source plus sink storage”. It should not be confused with a dual fuel engine. Storage density compared to that of a Li-ion battery ranges from approximately equal with only liquid air to 16 times with fuel plus liquid air. Source temperature may range from ambient atmosphere in a fuel-less engine to approximately 1630 F (890 C) in a fired stainless steel engine without blade cooling. A liquid air sink operates between the liquid phase at - 315 F (- 190 C) and solid phase at - 350 F (- 210 C). The gas turbine is selected as the base line engine for source plus sink storage because of the simplification afforded by external compression and associated capability to recover maximum deceleration energy in hybrid vehicle application.
  
   The Cryo-GT is more efficient and has application to a wider range of vehicle size than the engines of the UK program. The following tabulation compares operating (no) and total efficiency (nt) of the Cryo-GT with normally aspirated engines, where (nt) includes air liquefaction and fuel processing.
Application
CryoGT
Otto
MicroGT
AdvGT

no         nt
no         nt
no         nt
no         nt
Compact car @ 50mph
51        19
18         14
--           --
--          --
Distributed electric
74        43
--          --
28         22
--          --
Central electric
82        25
--          --
--           --
40        29
   Tank-to-wheel efficiency does not take into account the renewable energy used for air liquefaction, nor does it account for fuel refining, distribution and exploration. Complete evaluation of source plus sink storage must include the impact of reduced fuel consumption on alternate fuels delivery, emissions and handling safety.

   Liquefied air is supplied to the Cryo-GT from advanced liquefiers driven by station off-peak and various sources of renewable energy. Advantages over battery storage include;
* long service life with no disposal requirement and no toxic or limited resources,
* consistent efficient performance,
* universal availability ranging from distributed generation to central station capacity and,
* low weight and capital cost in a well developed technology.

   Implications of low Cryo-GT fuel consumption on emissions and fuel selection with respect to safety and cost are profound. The fuel-less and fired Cryo-GT are both more efficient than a fuel cell, do not require ultra-high purity, and can be implemented years ahead. The Cryo-GT uniquely meets the defining requirement of economic liquid air consumption, as the ratio of  liquid air to working fluid decreases with decreasing pressure ratio.  The cycle may be described as a Brayton cycle, modified to include quasi-isothermal compression. Injection of  liquid air into regeneratively cooled intake air reduces compression work from 55 % to 15 % of turbine output. The portion of liquid air in the working fluid is calculated by dividing compression work, according to the quasi-isothermal “Tds equation”, by latent heat of the liquid air.

     Cryo-GT is potentially a universal prime mover.  Advantages of the Cryo-GT include nearly ambient exhaust temperature and capability to burn a variety of fuels or run on recovered heat. Service life is very long with high reliability and low emissions, maintenance and weight. Heat exchanger frost problems experienced with the early Cryo cars [4. 5] are avoided with an internally heated cryo-regenerator.   Low compression extends high  efficiency to small engines. Design engine speed in a vehicle at 50 mph is 50,000 rpm, one-half as for a micro-turbine.
  
   Five features  advanced by the author of this post  provide enhanced performance of the Cryo-GT and liquid air economy; 
* Exhaust gas recirculation and heat recovery by an auxiliary jet-compressor/rotary regenerator increases regenerator effectiveness in low pressure applications while reducing consumption of liquid air, as well as heat exchanger cost. Jet drive by high motive pressure of the liquefied air recirculates a portion of turbine exhaust to the combustor. Improvements to gas turbine heat recovery include reduced surface area, leakage and flow mal-distribution. Assembly of a proto-type regenerator is nearly complete.
* Sub-cooling by a heat of fusion sink extends liquid air range of a vehicle by on-stream liquefaction of regeneratively cooled working fluid returning to the cryogenic compressor. It works by alternately melting solidified air during absorption of compression heat and re-solidifying the fluid by vacuum induced by a brake driven circulator. The sink reduces air liquefaction energy to about 25 % as for advanced air liquefiers. 
* Free wheeling of the gas turbine enables very high heat recovery during vehicle braking. A braking compressor replaces most combustion heating up to about 50 mph. Vehicle draft recovery is effective at higher speed. 
* Cogeneration of fuels is enhanced in stationary systems by low pressure steam, generated by liquefier cooling water.
* A proprietary universal gas liquefier is in proto-type design stage. 
   
   Liquid air production requires the equivalent of 40 % of Cryo-GT output, however there are strong mitigating factors;
* low fuel consumption promotes use of renewable fuel,
* regeneratively cooled compressor intake air is pre-cooled for on-stream re-liquefaction by a heat of fusion sink (thermal battery),
* rejected liquefier heat provides space heating and cogeneration of fuel,
* low cost station off-peak and recovered energy, including solar and building amplified wind drives liquefaction with uniform geographical distribution,
* low cost liquid air at 3 c/lb [1 ], and
* liquefier technology is advancing with the developing liquefied natural gas industry.

   The Cryo-GT is a regenerative gas turbine with a sub-ambient recuperator and an over-ambient rotary regenerator, which can utilize various heat sources including ambient, solar and combustion. It operates on a modified Brayton cycle, in which injection of liquefied air into the compressor provides quasi-isothermal compression of dense cryogenic air. Compression work is reduced from an estimated 50% of turbine output to 15%. The attached figure illustrates component arrangement of a fired Cryo-GT. 
   

   Liquefied air from a liquid air pump vaporizes while cooling atmospheric intake air in a sub-ambient recuperator. The chilled air, pressurized by the compressor, gains heat in the sub-ambient recuperator and in the rotary regenerator for delivery to the combustor. Products of combustion then expand through the turbine, heat combustion air in the rotary regenerator, and are discharged to atmosphere. The heat of fusion sink and jet compressor for exhaust recirculation provide improved liquefied air economy leading to practical application of phase-change storage.
   The following Table* presents weights, costs and other data for Cryo-GT compared to an Otto cycle engine and an electric motor/battery in a 3000 lb car  with frontal area = 24 ft2, drag coefficient = 0.29,  developing 11 HP (8.2) kW at 50 mph.

Engine
range
fuellqairbatteng
Fill/chg
lqair
fuel
life
Eng/batt

mi
lblblblb
min
¢/mi
¢/mi
Khr
¢/mi
CryoGT
300
188550100
2
1.0
2.5
20
0.3
CryoGT2
300
--300270120
5
3.5
--
30
0.3
Otto
400
70--50200
2
--
11.7
4
2.5
Otto-hyb
540
64--180200
2
--
7.9
4
4.5
All elec
100
----600250
480
--
--
2
6.0
*wgt. (lb) turb. 25, regen. 30, reheat. 20, heat sink 30, comp. 15 
  
   The following Table* presents lqa/nat gas mass ratio, cost compared to normally aspirated stationary GT’s with 40 Khr life at design point press. ratio (Pr) and turbine inlet gas temp. (T).                         

Engine
power
Pr
T
Lqa/ngas
lqa
ngas
plant

mW
--
F
--
¢/kWh
¢/kWh
¢/kWh
CryoGT
0.1
3
1630
39
3.0
4.0
5.5
MicroGT
0.1
3
1630
--
--
10.5
8.0
CryoGT
100
18
2900
49
3.2
3.6
1.5
AdvGT
100
18
2900
--
--
7.0
2.0






 

*Assumed data are:
Costs: $4.00 US/gal of gasoline, 50¢ US/therm nat.gas, 25¢ US/gal of liquid air
Cryo-GT: regen. effect. = 95 %; turb., comp. eff. = 85 %
Fuel prep. = 25 % hhv, air liq. fig. of merit = 0.5

   In conclusion, source plus sink storage with the Cryo-GT prime mover should be considered as a viable expedient towards a clean energy future based on the following advantages;
* highest attainable operating efficiency, sustained over a wide load range,
* supercedes difficult high temperature solutions,
* low capital cost,
* builds on developed technology, and
* efficient storage provided by globally distributed atmosphere 

References
1. Center for Low Carbon Futures, “Liquid Air in the Energy and Transport  Systems”, ISBN:978-0-9575872-2-9, 2013
2. Kleppe, J. and Schneider, R., "A Nitrogen Economy", ASEE, 1974
3. Kishimoto, K. et-al, “Development of Generator of Liquid Air Storage Energy System”, Mitsubishi Tech. Review Vol. 35-3, 1998
4. Ordonez, C.,“Liquid Nitrogen Fueled, Closed Brayton Cycle Cryogenic Heat Engine”, Energy Conversion and Management 41, 2000
5. Knowlen, C. et al, "High Efficiency Energy Conversion Systems for Liquid